Sunday, May 3, 2015

Carter Takes Early Lead in HANA Grand Circuit Handicapping Challenge

With four legs of the 2015 HANA Harness Grand Circuit Handicapping Challenge presented by the
Bellino Stables, DRF Harness, Hambletonian Society, Meadowlands Racing and Entertainment, Northfield Park, Tioga Downs, and Vernon Downs, Buffalo Raceway announcer Michael Carter has taken an early lead with 319.70 points.  Carter managed to surge to the lead due in a large part to his performance on Saturday afternoon where he had three winners, including Lady Suffolk second division winner, Northern Obsession which paid $46.20 to win.   Carter would have gone four for four on Saturday if not for his selection in the Dexter Cup, Divisionist finishing second.  Other performers of note were Bryan Owen and Gordon Waterstone who went three for four, alas without selecting Northern Obsession.  The current standings after four legs are:

Standings as of Sunday, May 3 - Leg 4
Total Points Points Earned Overall Position
Pos Handicapper Prior Week This Week Total Points Last Week
1st Michael Carter  11.60 308.10 319.70 13th (tie)
2nd Gordon Waterstone 43.50 105.20 148.70 2nd
3rd Bryan Owen 39.70 107.30 147.00 5th
4th Sally Hinckley 48.20 47.70 95.90 1st
5th Derick Giwner 33.90 58.20 92.10 8th
6th Brandon Valvo 40.90 51.00 91.90 4th
7th Earl Paulson 43.20 34.90 78.10 3rd
8th Ann Stepien 11.60 65.70 77.30 13th (tie)
9th Mark Dezii 37.00 34.60 71.60 6th
10th Josi Verlingieri 33.40 31.70 65.10 9th
11th Dennis O'Hara  18.10 45.20 63.30 11th
12th Jay Hochstetler  4.20 58.60 62.80 18th
13th Rusty Nash 35.70 21.20 56.90 7th
14th Garnet Barnsdale 8.00 46.90 54.90 15th (tie)
15th Mark McKelvie 5.90 46.90 52.80 17th
16th Mark Deutsch 11.90 38.60 50.50 12th  
17th Ray Garnett 31.80 18.10 49.90 10th
18th Ray Cotolo 8.00 40.20 48.20 15th (tie)
19th Bob Zanakis 0.00 37.20 37.20 19th

Three new handicappers join the fray, two replacing handicappers forced to scratch due to circumstances beyond their control, while one handicapper is a new addition.  Coming off the also eligible list is Bob Zanakis who is a handicapper familiar to followers of this series and Jay Hochstetler, an intern at the Horsemen and Fair World and an assistant trainer.  Added to the roster is Mark Deutsch, a former owner and trainer who now enjoys handicapping harness racing primarily on the WEG circuit.  As substitutes, Hochstetler takes over representing Rainhill Sanctuary, while Zanakis assumes representing Helping Hearts Equine Rescue.  Mark Deutsch chose New Vocations as his rescue of choice. 

Two new sponsors have joined the contest.  HANA welcomes Red Shores Charlottetown as a Silver sponsor while an Anonymous donor has signed on as a double Bronze sponsor.  Thanks to these additions, the contest handicappers are playing for a HANA Harness-record $5,700 in prize money to be distributed to the top three handicapper's selected standardbred rescues and Canadian rescues selected by the Canadian sponsors. 

This coming week, there are no events but the Handicapping Challenge returns the following week for events Saturday-Monday (5/16-5/18).  For details on the specific races and other information regarding the contest, visit